As we’ve reported on road.cc over the past couple of weeks, cyclists in and around the Peak District have been making the most of the closure to motor vehicles of the Snake Pass, with another “mass trespass” planned for this weekend – and it turns out that local residents, who for years have had to endure motor vehicle noise are also loving the current peace and quiet.
> Snake Pass protest: Cyclists reclaim car-free route
Landslides mean that a 12-mile section of the road, which carries the A57 from Sheffield to Manchester, has been closed to traffic since earlier this month while repairs are carried out at the specific location where the damage has happened.
People living on the stretch of road that has been closed (who are still allowed to access their homes by motor vehicle, although detours may be required depending which side of the damaged section they are) told the Derby Telegraph that they are enjoying the tranquillity that has replaced the sound of motorcyclists and drivers taking on the iconic climb and descent, plus the disruption caused by visitors parking.
One local, Charlotte Rowland, told the newspaper: “It is very peaceful, you can have all the windows open without the loud traffic. I've got a little puppy so it’s easy to take him on walks because he isn't as scared.”
Another resident of the area, Ben Morris, who has spent all his life in Glossop, the town that sits at the foot of the western side of the pass, said: “If Snake Pass was permanently closed, I would be happy, because there wouldn't be a problem for me whatsoever. It would be much more peaceful.”
Cyclists, both local and from further afield, are once again planning to ride on what is effectively a closed road this weekend, similar to a ride last week that was billed as a “mass trespass” – inspired by the nearby Kinder Scout Mass Trespass of 1932 which would help pave the way for the creation of the Peak District National Park as well as later legislation providing wider access to the countryside for ramblers in England.
Around 100 people on bike and foot took to Snake Pass last weekend to enjoy the traffic-free road – and with fine weather predicted this coming weekend, many plan to do so again.
Derbyshire County Council, the highways authority responsible for the road, insists that the closure applies to cyclists as well as motorists – although Cycling UK has said that is not the case, and has written to the council to set out its views on the issue.
A council spokesperson said: “The weekend before last the sheer number of cyclists, many in very large groups, riding the A57 Snake Pass along with residents’ cars, road maintenance and farm vehicles meant it was simply not safe.
“As a result, we had to take the difficult decision to extend the closure of Snake Pass to cyclists and walkers in addition to the existing closure to vehicles, other than residents’ and highways maintenance vehicles.
“We completely understand the attraction of the road to the cycling community and we did not take the decision to close lightly, but our duty to people’s safety has to come first.
“Our estimate is that around 100 cyclists and walkers chose to ignore the Snake Pass road closure signs on Saturday.
“We will continue to work to try to balance the needs and safety of cyclists, motorists, walkers, local residents, visitors, farmers and businesses,” the spokesperson continued.
“As work to assess and mend this significant landslip carries on, we will continue to keep under review if any sections of the road are safe to open.
“It is a very complex operation because the landslip is still moving and we thank everyone for their ongoing patience.”
Not all locals are welcoming of cyclists taking advantage of the current situation to enjoy the motor traffic-free roads, however.
One resident of Glossop who has lived in the town for 40 years told the Derby Telegraph: “Ordinary cyclists were going up and damaging the work they were doing to rectify the landslides. I have seen them going up. It doesn't bother me but if people are trying to rebuild the road and cyclists are disrupting it, there won't be progress.”
The newspaper did note, however, that the body language of residents changed between them describing the impact of the usual motor traffic on the pass, and how they feel about the current closure, with interviewees described as breaking into “a cheery smile” when asked about the latter.
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